Warriors' Draymond Green has eager student in rookie Alen Smailagic

Warriors' Draymond Green has eager student in rookie Alen Smailagic

SAN FRANCISCO -- There is a certain reverence in the voice of Warriors rookie Alen Smailagic when he references Draymond Green, and it’s more than a wide-eyed rookie hoping to please an accomplished veteran.

It’s creeping toward a mentor-pupil relationship.

“I really like to talk to him because he really wants to help me,” Smailagic told NBC Sports Bay Area late Saturday night. “The way he talks to me and everything, it really helps me. It helps me develop into a better player.

“He told me points are going to come. That I’m young but that he likes the way I play, and the way I want to play.”

Smailagic, 19, has played 25 NBA minutes, five in a win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday and 20 in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday. He has spent most of the past year toiling with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the NBA team’s G League affiliate.

Green, is a little more than two months away from his 30th birthday. He’s a one-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year award winner, a three-time NBA champion, three-time All-Star and a five-time All-Defensive team member.

So, yes, it’s wise of Smailagic to listen to and study Green.

“I love how inquisitive he is,” Green said. “Every time, he’s like, ‘What you got for me?’ Or, ‘What did you see?’ Part of that is good. But I also don’t want him to play to not make mistakes. You can’t play the game of basketball to not make mistakes, or you’ll make a ton of mistakes.

“It’s about helping him find that balance. As a leader, help him when I can but also figure out when I shouldn’t say anything.”

Smailagic is ready to hang on Green’s words because they both are listed at power forward. They do, however, have different body types. Green is 6-6, 230 pounds, with a 7-1 wingspan. Smailagic is 6-10, 220, with a 7-2 wingspan.

If there is one thing Smailagic marvels at and wants to put under a microscope, it’s Green’s ability to defend all five positions. It’s a rare skill, yet worth pursuing.

“It’s his eighth year in the league, so I asked him how to play defense because he is a power forward like me,” Smailagic said. “How is he guarding guards? The advice he gave me was really good, so I started guarding them like I play their position.”

[RELATED: What valuable lesson Dubs learned on successful homestand]

It’s early, but Smailagic shows signs of being a quick learner.

No matter, though, as if Green has learned anything this season, it is patience.

What Ex-Warrior Andre Iguodala thinks of NBA's bubble environment

What Ex-Warrior Andre Iguodala thinks of NBA's bubble environment

Andre Iguodala has played over 1,100 NBA games, but his next eight (at least) will be very different. Iguodala and the Miami Heat are in Orlando preparing for the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season.

So, how is the former Warriors forward approaching the "bubble" at Disney World?

"It's not really a different type of environment," the 2015 NBA Finals MVP said Saturday after practice. "The majority of the league comes from low to middle-class income families. We played in worse conditions. Obviously the NBA and every team should be giving all the players all the resources they need.

"It's just getting the mental side right, making the most of the moment and putting forth the mental and physical effort to keep our game in a healthy place ... we're doing it as a collective. We're competing on the court, but hopefully the players are getting a chance to interact and keep each other in a good mental space."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Iguodala -- one of the smartest players in the entire league -- understands the big picture and what's at stake for the NBA. He knows it won't be easy for everybody and that the logistics present challenges, but is willing to sacrifice for the greater good. So don't expect to hear any complaints from Iguodala when it comes to the food or accommodations in Orlando.

At 36 years old, it probably will take Iguodala a little longer to get himself to where he needs to be physically. But he made sure he put in the work while the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The body is solid," Iguodala said. "Just looking over the little nicks that may come up from being off so long ... everyone was getting after it throughout this time."

[RELATED: Spoelstra credits Iguodala's Warriors tenure for leadership]

Iguodala averaged just 4.4 points in 18.5 minutes over his first 14 games with the Heat.

But you definitely should expect his production and value to increase when the playoffs begin in mid-August.

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Why Kendrick Perkins gives Draymond Green 'D' grade for 2019-20 season

Why Kendrick Perkins gives Draymond Green 'D' grade for 2019-20 season

Kendrick Perkins gets paid to express his opinion.

And on Tuesday's episode of "The Jump" on ESPN, he voiced his thoughts on Draymond Green's 2019-20 campaign.

"Draymond disappointed me this season," the former NBA big man said. "I thought with the injury to Klay (Thompson) and the injury to Steph (Curry) he was gonna elevate his game offensively and shock the world. With him getting $100 million in the contract extension, I thought Draymond was gonna come out and prove a point.

"Also with them losing Kevin Durant, I thought we would see 'Defensive Player of the Year Draymond' ... (but) he took a few steps backwards. My expectations for Draymond Green were a little bit higher, and he didn't achieve it."

The truth is that it was a very, very frustrating year for Draymond.

The three-time NBA champion missed 22 games with various ailments, yet picked up a league-high 14 technical fouls. He shot below 39 percent from the field and less than 28 percent from 3-point range.

But as noted before, yours truly forever will give Draymond a pass for what transpired. There wasn't much incentive at all for the three-time All-Star after Steph broke his hand Oct. 30 against the Phoenix Suns, as the Warriors had no chance of reaching the postseason.

The truth is that Draymond needed a break -- physically and mentally -- after averaging 37.7 minutes over 104 Golden State playoff games from 2015 to 2019.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

It's unclear why Perkins would expect the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year to produce big considering he didn't have Steph, Klay, KD, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston on the court with him.

"To everybody out there who want to talk s--t about this year -- I don't really give a f--k," Draymond said in April on the "All the Smoke" podcast. "In my opinion, I got better. I got better as a player, I got better as a person and a leader ... and that's gonna make me even better for next year.

"So, I appreciate everybody talking. I kind of needed them to relight that fire under my a--."

[RELATED: Beef squashed? Draymond, Barkley team up on TV show]

Draymond definitely pays attention to what is being said about him, his teammates and the Warriors. He uses the noise as motivation when necessary.

Needless to say, the three-time All-Star wants to send a message to the doubters.

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